In the April 2017 issue of Response Magazine, President of a2b Fulfillment, Ayal Latz, talks about three areas to be mindful of when it comes to scalability as a direct marketer. If you find yourself maxed out with managing your own logistics or if you are questioning whether your third-party fulfillment provider has what it takes to move you to the next level, you might consider evaluating these three areas of your business.
Labor – If your order fulfillment is in-house and you oversee the labor, you’ve learned a hard lesson on both the value of retention and anticipating the increase in labor. You might even have a temp service on speed dial and family members of friends who refuse to pick up when you call due to your constant request to help with packing and labeling boxes.
Maybe you already have a fulfillment provider, but you realized they just can’t meet the growing demand. They were great when you started, but their systems and labor no longer suit the value-added services your product now requires.
No matter what you’re doing, you need to be asking yourself this: Does my fulfillment operation have the trained staff necessary to scale and meet order demand? Am I accurately anticipating my staffing needs during peak and non-peak seasons?
Space –With the boom in e-commerce over the past couple years, demand for warehouse space continues to surge. If you are a direct marketer managing your own fulfillment, you most likely aren’t sitting on a massive warehouse with ample square footage that you leased or purchased “just in case.”
Maybe you’re working with a provider who simply doesn’t have the room or the necessary resources to keep up with your space demand. Early on, things were a perfect fit, but you’ve added products, diversified your selling options and you just need room to grow.
The point is – you need to be sure you have the space to handle capacity; including peak season. Don’t let your operation outgrow your fulfillment strategy. Don’t find yourself forced to scramble for better options. Your fulfillment operation should have a plan for flexibility, in order to meet the demands of your customers; which brings us to our third and final point….
Versatility – As we’ve said over and over again, customer expectations are steadily on the rise. Take some time to evaluate your fulfillment operation and determine that if you were to increase your volume, would you still be able to exceed your customer’s expectations?
A few questions to ask yourself: Can you process in 24 hours or less? Have you been able to maintain on-time shipping, even during your peak seasons? On the flip side, did you maintain order accuracy within your high-selling season? Finally, with a successful product comes new sales channels. Is your fulfillment operation able to quickly and seamlessly integrate with new retailers when it comes to order management?
Hopefully these tips will help as you make the move to scale your business. Feel free to download the full version of this article within the April issue of Response Magazine.